April 15th, 2015

i left my heart in mexico.

I can’t quit Mexico. Whenever I have the opportunity to travel, I inevitably end up in Mexico or Belize. I suppose I am drawn to the authenticity and vivacity of the Mexican people — in my mind, they exist in stark contrast to the inauthentic people I tend to encounter in SF. Also, I speak a little Spanish and eliminating a language barrier always makes travel more pleasant. I mentioned previously that I scheduled this solo-adventure as a bit of respite and reward for nearing the conclusion of several life chapters all at once. I have never solo-adventured before. I always travel with a friend, a significant other or with the intention to rendezvous with another travel-buddy. This time, there was no such rendezvous on the horizon and, as soon as I boarded the airplane, I knew this would be an unforgettable adventure.

Dress: UO // Swimsuit: Victoria’s Secret // Hat: Korea // Shoes: Birkenstocks // Sunglasses: Ambiance in SF

I landed in Mexico, disembarked, took a land taxi to the pier, then boarded a water taxi and rode 45 minutes into the ocean, finally arriving at a small fishing village I would call home for a week. When we arrived at the beach I was expected to find my own way off the boat and, without the assistance of a ladder or pier, I simply tossed myself overboard, landing with a splash in the lazy bay. That initial jump also set the stage for the rest of my time there. My host met me on the beach and escorted me to his B&B in the jungle. “Is this all you brought?” he asked, indicating my luggage. I nodded. “Good, we won’t have to use the wheelbarrow.” I agreed, that was good. I followed his lead by discarding my shoes, but the gravelly sand left my city-sensitive feet seeking mercy. We followed the single cobblestone road to his property, sidestepping manure, chickens and donkeys as we went. There are no cars in the village — only donkeys, horses, a few ATVs, and feet. Barefoot still, I waded through a river, scattering minnows and tadpoles with my invasive toes — bridges are overrated. Every field we passed was so alive and vibrant with the growing season — corn grew alongside Hibiscus and plantains and oversized hummingbirds buzzed eagerly around every new bloom.

My casita itself was beyond perfection. I had a stone terrace with a view of the mountains, a gauzy white mosquito net, and the sound of birds woke me every morning while the insects’ music lulled me to sleep every night. The natural spring pool was a dream and made me realize how desperately I miss swimming. I settled in that first night and watched the sun set with a cup of lemongrass tea. The following days blur together in a perfect union of hiking to waterfalls, reading some fantastic literature and lazing on the beach. I find it hard to read on the beach, I am far more interested in people-watching and glass-bottle-Pepsi-drinking. One day I watched a free-flying paragliding lesson. The instructor sat behind me giving instructions in a walkie talkie while the students in the air attempted to comply — bank right, bank left, pull up. It was my own private show and I watched them circle the mountains like bats, whipping the fog into decorative swirls with their multi-colored nylon wings.

During my three-day beachfront observation, I saw donkeys carrying cement bricks, men haggling over a wheelbarrow full of fish, two boys hacking open coconuts for the soft, meaty centers, a woman selling homemade pie from a container she balanced on her head and, of course, a few tourists who came for the day to do the waterfall hike, have a Corona Light on the beach, then leave. I liked getting there in the early morning, before the boats had started to populate the cerulean waters, watching the beach wake up and greet the day. I’d get a fresh-squeezed juice in town at a stand labeled “jugos naturales” and bring it in the to-go plastic bag down to the water. In the afternoons I’d eat pie and guacamole and swim, then hole up in my room to read. I also cooked my own dinners at the casita, making full use of their chef’s kitchen. I didn’t talk to anyone, but I did write 22 pages in my journal and read four books (Dancing for Degas, The Lover, Suspended Sentences, Chocolates for Breakfast) and developed admirable calluses on my feet.

Now that I’ve catapulted back to reality, Mexico seems like an unfamiliar and foggy dream I woke abruptly from and am not quite able to perfectly recapture outside the confines of my own imagination. I suppose that’s the price I must pay for managing to fully inhabit another life for just a little while.

  • Whitney H

    I can’t even put into words how gorgeous this is. I’m quite jealous!

  • I really, really love that you went on this relaxation vacation on your own. I’ve never really traveled solo (I went to London alone & mostly traveled solo but stayed with my cousin), & I love the idea of it. This looks like such a wonderful adventure.

  • Kay

    Those images are so stunning. What an amazing trip! I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to take a trip all on my own…maybe someday!

  • It even sounds like a dream, the way you describe it is so vivid. :) What a great memory to have of it. Beautiful photos ~ and that water!

  • Ari Carr

    This is a wonderful post! I love how you describe everything. A break like yours sounds so relaxing.

  • San

    What an amazing trip, Abby! It sounds like a retreat that would be totally up my alley! Traveling alone has something freeing about it.

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